by Walter C. Jones, Morris News Service
By the end of summer, police officers across the state will have viewed a training video during roll call on recognizing and investigating cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly and disabled.
The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police developed the video at the recommendation of a multiagency task force examining the issue which initiated its production even before completing its final report.
“Often in a police investigation the victim has visible signs of their abuse. Moreover in cases involving at-risk adults, crimes such as neglect, exploitation, deprivation of essential services, identity theft, and fraud can be just as devastating as a physical attack,” the committee wrote. “Reports of such crimes must be scrutinized and examined with the same intensity, tenacity and resources as an assault and battery, or other crimes of violence.”
Rome Police Chief Elaine Snow said she had talked to the GBI and they expect the video to be finished by late July.
Officers will be watching it and Randy Gore, a detective, will by giving some information to the officers about elder abuse.
Capt. John Blalock of the Floyd County Police Department said some crimes carry a stiffer penalty when the victim is elderly.
“We conduct training annually on elder abuse,” Blalock said.
As the number of reported cases of elder abuse has soared in Georgia, law enforcement is joining social-services agencies to reverse the trend.
The number of reported complaints of physical, mental and financial abuse rose 65 percent between 2008 and 2012 when the total hit 15,108 at the Adult Protective Services. But the National Center for Elder Abuse estimates that as much as 84 percent of abuse, neglect and exploitation goes unreported.
For one thing, there are simply more elderly people because the Baby Boom is reaching retirement age at a pace of 10,000 per day and because people are living longer. That means more people in the care of others, from understaffed nursing homes and unlicensed group homes to family members who may be untrained or resenting the responsibility.
“It’s not only physical abuse; it’s also their life savings they are fleeced out of all of the time,” said Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs Association.
The $2.5 billion in government benefits awarded annually to Peach State senior citizens — as well as their life savings and homes that are often paid for — creates tantalizing targets.
SOURCE: Rome News Tribune
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